Don’t Blow It Review – A local card-based word game that is easy to get into and appeals to the whole family

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There is definitely a growing interest in South Africa’s board games industry and this is not only evident in the growth of board game stores, events and sales, but also in the amount of locally designed games we are starting to see. One of these new games which are coming to the market is the fun, simple and yet equally challenging card-based word game from local designer Graeme Bragman, called Don’t Blow It.

A combination of Scrabble, Rummy and with a dash of unpredictability thrown in, Don’t Blow It is a card-based word game where players need to form words out of the letters in their hands. Don’t Blow It doesn’t have the same type of letter scoring as Scrabble though, with the length of the word (up to 7 letters) being rewarded, more than the letters in the word. There are however still some letter cards with scores on them, which makes for an additional bit of strategy as you can leverage these different scoring letters differently in the way you make use of certain scoring bonuses like double or triple letter and word score bonuses. The words you form though are not set in stone and as you get additional letters and cards in your hand, you can make changes to your words to better improve your scoring opportunities. Also, unlike Scrabble, your words that you form belong to you and unless a card states otherwise, opponents are not allowed to form words on your words. At the end of play, the words formed are then added together with your different bonuses applied and at times, penalties subtracted as well on cards left over to determine the actual winner.

The true fun in the game though doesn’t lie in just making words though, but rather in the special Don’t Blow It cards which each dictate specific actions or abilities that can dramatically change the game and add elements of fun (unless like me you once had to swop an excellent set of cards with a player who had absolute duds) and randomness to the activities of the game. These cards bring an element of unpredictability, but also some extra strategy as finding the right time to play them is key.

Don’t Blow It is an easy game to get into, which is great when you’re looking for something fun to play that doesn’t require too much preparation or setup and if you have kids, also counts as an extra educational opportunity to challenge their vocabulary and have fun at the same time. Although the game is a simple one to understand, it is still recommended to read the rules thoroughly at the start, as there are a lot of different rules that apply to the different types of cards. While they are easy to get a hang of, you do need to invest some time in your first playthrough just understanding it all. The nice thing is that you are unlikely to encounter too many ambiguities or difficulties with the rules after the first few playthroughs, and after that it’s an easy game to explain to friends. And quick enough to act as a short diversion if that is what you are after.

This does lead to perhaps the biggest issue I had with the game, which is the rule book. It contains a few rule details hidden in some big paragraphs on how to play the game, where a point format with sub-headings may have been better. It might seem like a small thing, but in the first few playthroughs, it was difficult to navigate the book whenever a dispute or question around rules came up and having a more easily navigable rulebook would’ve considerably sped up play in these moments.

As for the rest of the gameplay, it felt pretty seamless and the art direction is simple enough to make the cards easy to identify. It’s not the best quality design you will come across, but for a locally designed game where they are trying to keep the costs down it comes across as fine and easily comparable with what you will find in card games of the likes of Uno.

Don’t Blow It is designed for broad appeal to a multitude of players, especially families with young kids, but may frustrate serious gamers looking for more depth in their gameplay. It’s the type of game I would bring out to play when the family comes to visit, but I would likely go for something a little deeper when my fellow board gaming friends come over to play. Still, at R190, this game still offers decent value for money and enough wholesome fun to keep your family entertained for many hours.

Last Updated: September 26, 2017

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